By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Pictures from a polling place

I got back from voting a little while ago. While I was there, I took a few pictures to upload to the Polling Place Photo Project, started by Jay Rosen’s NewAssignment.Net and now hosted by the New York Times.

I zipped off four photos to the project, which you can see here. (At right is Salem News reporter Ethan Forman, who’s interviewing a voter outside Danvers High School.) The idea is to supplement election coverage with a little citizen journalism, combining professional with amateur contributions. When it comes to photography, I certainly qualify as an amateur.

Here is Rosen’s original essay on the purpose of the project.

The site is slow today — no surprise, given that it’s Super Tuesday. I imagine things will be quite a bit busier later today, when people start getting out of work.

Rosen and the other folks behind the project hope this will somehow lead to a better voting experience. Perhaps. Certainly there’s a possibility that some real problems will be documented by camera-wielding citizens.

If nothing else, though, the project shows that professional and amateur journalists can work together to produce something that’s both interesting and worthwhile.

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30 years ago this week


News is a (nasty) conversation


  1. Larisa

    Oh, that Ethan is hot!What can I say, nothing will warm you up like a hot reporter on Super Tuesday!

  2. Ethan

    Nice that my wife is my No. 1 fan! I guess she likes my goofy hat, after all. So much for high-minded civic journalism! Ethan.

  3. Steve

    I have a question about photo journalism ethics. If you take a picture for publication, and the picture has identifiable private citizens in it, must you obtain their permission before publishing? What’s the etiquette involved?

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: The short answer is “no.” The long answer could fill a book. People in public places are fair game. Of course, let’s keep in mind that 99 percent of the time you’re talking about a friendly exchange, not a hostile situation. But that’s the rule.It’s a rich and complex subject, but let me draw one distinction that would be useful. The law says there’s a big difference between journalism and commerce. If I take a photo of a football player and run it in my sports section, no problem. If I take the same picture and run it as a full-page ad trying to get people to subscribe to my paper, that’s commercial use, and I need permission.

  5. George

    Dan,Can I get a follow-up?Say I’m using my cellphone to shoot video of a couple friends, and in the background there is a man who appears to be stealing something. Can I post that video, or am I doing something illegal? By posting it online or even by shooting it?I read news about court rulings dealing with stuff like this, but I’m not sure where the line is.George

  6. Dan Kennedy

    George: I’m a dangerous man. I teach media law, but I’m not a lawyer.That said, I do not believe you’d be doing anything illegal. Go for it.And that bit of legal advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.

  7. Local Editor

    While grownups are usually fair game, the rules are considered different for kids. Some schools even distribute consent forms for parents, and it’s always wise to get parental approval before taking pictures of kids in a public area.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Local Editor: Agreed. But I don’t think there’s a law. It’s just common sense and common courtesy.

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